In an effort to rid the web of fake news, Google banned nearly 200 publishers from its advertising network in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to the company’s annual “bad ads” report released Wednesday.
The crackdown came specifically in the months of November and December, following a change of policy for Google’s ad network AdSense designed to punish sites that intentionally misrepresent who they are in order to deceive readers.
The updated policy led to the review of 550 sites, including a considerable amount that were masquerading as legitimate news organizations. Google reported it took action against 340 of those sites and permanently banned about 200 of the violators from its advertising platform.
The company also suspended more than 1,300 accounts for “tabloid cloaking,” a practice that became increasingly popular in 2016. The scam involves creating ads that purport to be news and information only to send users to a site trying to sell a questionable product when clicked. The ads are often targeted around current events.